2024 Quest for the Best Applications Now Open
Feb. 19 deadline for students to apply for an award that recognizes their academic and community service contributions as well as the roles of their campus mentors.
Natalie King-Shaw is currently at Harvard University, in her first year as a doctoral candidate in speech and hearing bioscience and technology.
But before she was admitted to Harvard, King-Shaw was a rising star at San Diego State University, a psychology major who amassed an impressive resume of academic achievement, volunteerism and community service.
Last year, King-Shaw was one of nine students honored with the 2023 Quest for the Best award, which recognizes high-achieving SDSU students for outstanding performance in academics, leadership and community service and also honors the mentors who helped guide them along the way.
“Being selected as a Quest honoree was a huge honor because it was really a testament to the mentorship and support I was surrounded by during my time at SDSU,” King-Shaw said. “I feel so grateful that I was able to be honored with my amazing faculty mentor, Dr. Sonja Pruitt-Lord, who truly paved the way for me in so many ways during my time at SDSU and now beyond.”
King-Shaw and other Quest for the Best winners, faculty and staff are encouraging current students to apply for the 2024 Quest for the Best Vice Presidential Student Service Award. The award is presented by the Glazer Center for Leadership and Service in the Division of Student Affairs and Campus Diversity.
“I would tell students that if they are considering applying, this is their sign to do it,” King-Shaw said. “I know it can feel weird and scary, but the opportunity to be honored alongside someone who has supported you at SDSU and give them their flowers is truly a blessing. And it is so important to give yourself your flowers too.”
Each year, the “best of the best” awardees are honored, along with their mentors, at a gala in April. The application period for Quest for the Best closes at 4 p.m. Feb. 19. Go to the Quest for the Best webpage for more information, the application form and FAQs.
Enrolled SDSU undergraduate and graduate students with a minimum 3.0 overall GPA who have completed at least one year at SDSU and earned at least 75 units of college work are eligible. Applicants are evaluated in four areas:
- Academic excellence
- Student involvement and commitment
- Community service outside the SDSU campus
- Leadership qualities and development
“Our students work so hard, both academically and co-curricular, throughout their time at SDSU. Quest for the Best is a great way for their accomplishments to be recognized,” said Chelsea Lombrozo, assistant director of the Glazer Center. “As their time as a student begins to come to a close, this award often serves as a great reminder of their past achievements and their anticipated future successes.”
King-Shaw, who also was the first SDSU student to win the prestigious Donald A. Strauss scholarship to help fund the program she developed to provide academic, creative and identity support to Black kids in predominantly white schools, said she learned about Quest from Lombrozo.
“It was not a recognition that I was striving for, but I was very lucky to have Chelsea, Dr. Pruitt-Lord and another life-changing mentor, Maureen Paolini, all encourage me to apply,” King-Shaw said. “To me, being selected really just showed me again the transforming mentorship that I was surrounded by, because they all supported and encouraged me to go for it when I typically would not have. They deserve all of the recognition and thanks in the world.”
Looking back on the honor, King-Shaw said the biggest takeaway from the Quest for the Best experience was that she wants to be the type of mentor that her mentors were to her.
“As I look ahead and think about the type of person I want to be in my life and my career, everything comes back to continuing the mentorship cycle that I have been blessed to experience,” she said. “Quest for the Best's focus on both students' journeys and the people who have been influential in that journey has been a huge inspiration to me to be like my mentors and use my education and future career to support students at every stage.”